Letter to the Editor: St George, a safe haven for drug users and drug dealers?

OPINION EDITORIAL – For the past three months, I have been trying to work with the Washington County Drug Task Force and the St. George Police Department to stop drug activity at the Sunstone Condominiums. One resident here is dealing Meth out of his house. Another resident is having drug fueled raves that spill over into the swimming pool. And yet another resident dealing ‘pills’ from his residence. I have been taking pictures of cars that stop here to make pick ups. I then forward the picture to the Drug Task Force. Myself, along with several neighbors have also been calling SGPD Dispatch and reporting blatant drug use.

Despite having been told by the Drug Task Force that they have been after the ‘Meth’ dealer and are eager to arrest him, he is as of this date, still actively dealing Meth. When we call SGPD dispatch and report people using drugs out in the open, no arrests have been made. On three seperate occassions, I specifically requested that the responding Officer make contact with me. Not only do the officers not make contact with me, they fail to investigate.

On the evening of Thursday, July 12, 2012, I called dispatch and reported a male sitting in his vehicle outside of unit #4 smoking some type of illicit drug. I reported the make and model and also gave them the license plate info. This individual was clearly visible to myself along with several neighbors using a small pipe. One officer approached on the road outside of our complex, sat in his vehicle, within 25 ft of the reported vehicle, and then left. When I called SGPD Dispatch back and wanted to know why no contact was even made, I was told the Officer reported the vehicle in question as G.O.A. or Gone On Arrival. Myself and several neighbors witnessed the whole incident and the vehicle never left.

The above incident is one of several which have been witnessed by several neighbors in which the SGPD responds to our call, doesn’t investigate, and then leaves without contacting the reporting party.

As of this date July 15, 2012, the drug activity at Sunstone Condominiums continues despite my best efforts to report any suspsicious activity. I, along with other neighbors, have begun to question whether anything will EVER be done by the authorities.

St.George, Utah – A safe haven for drug users and drug dealers? You decide.

Submitted by:  Dale Ward

Editor’s Note:  St. George Police Department’s Capt. James Van Fleet said that he is in receipt of a copy of Mr. Ward’s letter (as set forth above). Capt. Kyle Whitehead, who is responsible for the unit involved, is actively looking into the matter, Van Fleet said, and the Department will respond to the citizen’s concerns directly as soon as their investigation allows.

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  • John Anderson July 16, 2012 at 11:49 am

    This sounds like par for the course. On the whole, the St George police department seems more concerned with making traffic stops than it does with serious crime.

  • :( July 16, 2012 at 11:55 am

    Probably not the smartest idea to give all that info when nothing is being done about it typical st. george police work lol

  • Firefly July 16, 2012 at 12:37 pm

    The editors note at the end of the story is merely “reporter’s speak” for; the investigation has been determined to be closed at this point and no further investigation is forthcomng. Sorry state of affairs when the STGPD fails to fully investigate such reports and complaints. It brings into question if the officers are brave enough, or even adequately qualified to be law enforcement officers. Ultimately who is responsible for the Police Department and its officer’s actions while on duty? What a complete shame for this department. Maybe a change in leadership at the department is in order. What does the City leadership think about this? Maybe a thorough department investigation should be conducted by a competant reporter of STGNews or its competitor The Spectrum. It would be interesting to know what is behind this lack of attention to duty of this Police Department. Wishful thinking….never happen in this town.

  • Alvin July 16, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    I would not be so hasty to place all the blame on the SGPD or the Drug Task Force. I believe they know whats going on around here with the drug use, sales and other activity. After they make the arrest they are turned over to the court system for prosecution. They are many people out there with felonies (some have numerous) awaiting trial. Some are not given much of a sentence for dealing drugs so they have no incentive to stop. Jailing the drug user does not do much good and that effort could be better spent with rehab or treatment. I don’t have enough space here to discuss the ineffectiveness of jail time for a drug user that wants to be clean. There is NO treatment for them in jail.

    So, I guess the police could arrest dealers left and right but if the penalty is not severe enough for them to stop, why stop. It could be that many police are burned out by the countless arrests of dealers and watching them walk free as they await a trial a year or two down the road. Maybe more pressure needs to be placed on the prosecution side of the problem to get the desired results.

  • Murat July 16, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    These people are using drugs that weren’t prescribed by your local Big Pharma-rep MD. Big deal. Get a life, Dale Ward.

  • Fred Maine July 16, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    To Murat: Mr. Ward is upset about it and brave enough to give his real name. What’s your excuse?

  • Reality... July 16, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Sad to see these people ruining their own lives, but how bad is it honestly hurting you? Call the cops and they are going to jail for what…. A month? Then getting out and coming right back to the same lifestyle… Same house… Only now pissed off you turned them in… Doing nothing is what will keep you in less danger… As horrible as it sounds the drugs are never going to leave no matter how many police officers we have… Obviously they are too lazy or have bigger fish to catch then your neighborhood meth dealer…. Even if you move its the same situation! Its time everyone faces the reality the drugs arent going anywhere and it would be smarter to legalize and control then lock up every drug user. If they want to kill themselves, let em.

  • Jo Mick July 17, 2012 at 9:51 am

    This is a sad and unfortunate situation for all involved, but to accuse the St. George Police Department of not being able or qualified to do their job is asinine. No one loves Police Officers, but what will be the first number you’re going to dial when you need help? These Men and Women risk their lives, and see the horrible side of humanity every day for our protection and way of life, and to call them lazy and incapable is unbelievable!
    Has anyone taken the time to consider that this is ONE side of an upsets citizen’s story? That perhaps the Police Department and DRUG TASK FORCE are well aware of what is going on, but are taking the time to build a case that will stand in court to put these “druggies” away for more than a few months? Take a look at the Washington County Bookings and see how many people are being arrested for DRUGS. Things like this do not happen over night. If this alleged “illicit drug user” had indeed been caught, arrested and put in jail, he would most likely have bailed out within hours and been right back to the same thing. Let’s give some credit to the people who are sacrificing so much for our sake, so that we don’t have to.

  • Dale Ward July 21, 2012 at 1:22 pm

    After discussions in person and on the phone with the SGPD, I feel better about the situation. Both the SGPD and I want the same result. I wrote the letter above while deeply frustrated.

    In retrospect, I should have not wrote the letter based on emotion. While the frustration I felt was real, I absolutely should have handled my frustration in a more constructive way.

    I sincerely apologize to the SGPD and Washington County Drug Task Force for the manner in which I handled this.

    Dale Ward

  • Dale Ward August 16, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    After waiting 26 days, I can say, without a doubt, that St. George IS a safe haven for drug dealers. I talked to and listened to the SGPD, and trusted what I was told. As of August 16th, the drug activity is alive and well in Sunstone Condominiums. If you’re a drug dealer, apparently Sunstone Condominiums is the place to live.

    My apology above was sincere…but I expected some results….any result.

    I am disappointed with the SGPD and Washington County Drug Task Force.

    Dale Ward

    • MShabazz October 24, 2012 at 7:06 pm

      Just tell the police, next time you call in, the drug users are Black or Latino. I’m sure they’d show up with the SWAT team. Or maybe say they’re Polynesian, and they’ll have 13 police officers show up like what happened at the Pride at Dixie apartments last winter.

  • Chris White October 25, 2012 at 8:43 am

    This conversation brings out some important issues in our community. Mr. Ward has done what he has been asked to do. He saw something illegal and reported it to the authorities. Many lives are affected by the illegal act. Including the drug user. A look at the Washington county bookings will prove that our local law enforcement does enforce drug laws. They deal with many of the frustrations the public deals with. Understanding those points is important to point out our biggest failure. We do nothing to help the addicted users. Washington County has a Recidivism rate of between 75 and 83%. Recidivism deals with an inmate returning to prison once released. Some studies indicate an average of 50% in other areas. Mr. Ward, chances are those users have already been arested and released multiple times. The problem runs very deep. Let me explain some apects of the problem. We do not have adequate clinical support at purgatory. They just house the inmates. Upon release an inmate faces public rejection, dificulty finding work, and dificulty finding a place to live. So he returns to old friends, housing, and habits. Our community is addicted to looking at the daily posting for amusement but as a whole does little to help those children of God better their lives. There are a few amazing citizens who give freely of their time and money to help the inmates. I have already posted to much. Just think of the children, parents, family members and society that is affected by this topic. Mr. Ward i appreciate your willingness to share your concerns.

  • Concerned August 27, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Mr. Ward, while he is obviously concerned, has NO idea ‘what’ someone is smoking or not smoking… NO evidence. He’s accusing individuals of things he could be held liable for. He is naming unit numbers, without evidence, and could be sued for posting information he thinks is criminal WITHOUT any evidence otherwise. I advise him to watch what he says, WHO he accuses of things, and spreading rumors and falsehoods about other residents that he could be held liable for. Sure, report activity to the authorities that is suspicious, but leave it up to THEM to determine if the activity is criminal or not… do NOT assume you know all the details, Mr. Ward.

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